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Gillard must come clean on the state of the Budget

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Ever since sending Wayne Swan to dump the Government’s “iron clad” “no ifs, no buts”, surplus “guarantee” on December 20 last year Julia Gillard has been avoiding the tough questions on the Australian economy.

The Prime Minister won’t say how much the fifth successive Labor deficit will be, she won’t say how much the debt is projected to rise to, and she won’t come clean about how she intends to fund her $120 billion of unfunded promises in disability services, education, defence and the environment.

Now is Julia Gillard’s chance to reveal the true state of the Budget.

In her address to the National Press Club on Wednesday the Prime Minister must answer the following questions: • Given that Labor has delivered the four largest deficits in Australia’s history totalling $172 billion, how large will the Government’s fifth successive deficit be?

• Now that Labor have dumped their 2012-13 surplus “guarantee”, when does Labor now say they will deliver a surplus? Will the Prime Minister give another iron-clad guarantee to return the Budget to surplus? How can Australians take the Government at their word this time? (Remembering that the Prime Minister said that achieving a surplus this financial year was "the best thing we can do to help families with cost of living pressures..." (ABC AM, 11 May 2011))

• Given that Labor’s waste continues to this day - most recently with $5.5 million advertising an automatic payment (the Schoolkids Bonus) - was Labor ever serious about achieving a Budget surplus this year?

• Will the Prime Minister explain to the Australian people how she intends to keep her promise of paying off net debt by 2020-2021 given that would require surpluses of almost $30 billion a year from 2016-2017? (Remembering that Labor last delivered a surplus way back in 1989-90, and projected surpluses over the forward estimates average just $3.2 billion a year).

• How can Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard claim to be lower taxing than the Howard Government when they have announced 27 new or increased taxes and when their total call on the community - including taxes, borrowings and dividends - is the highest in recent times? (In the 2011-12 year the Government’s total call on resources


was nearly 26 per cent of gross domestic product. That is higher than in any year of the previous Coalition Government. The average for the Coalition years was 23.4 per cent.)

• How can Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard talk about a decline in Government revenue when this year they are estimated to receive over $70 billion more revenue than the last Budget of the Howard Government? (Labor is also spending over $90 billion more than the last Budget of the Howard Government.)

• Will the Prime Minister come clean with the Australian people about how she intends to fund her $120 billion budget black hole of unfunded promises including the $8 billion a year needed for the NDIS and the $6.5 billion a year needed for the Gonski education reforms? (Remembering that the Prime Minister emphatically stated in 2011 that “Every time we announce something we properly account for it and properly fund it” (Press Conference, 11 February 2011))

• Given Julia Gillard said on ABC AM in November last year that “I actually think the Australian people are entitled to know what the policies of every political party (are) and what they would cost” (ABC AM, 7 November 2012) will the Prime Minister instruct the Treasurer to release taxpayer funded costings of Greens policies prepared by the Department of Treasury?

• Given Julia Gillard has said that she would “draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in, (and) let our Parliament be more open than it was before” will Julia Gillard introduce legislation to change the law to allow the Government to reveal how much her handcrafted mining tax has raised? Does the Prime Minister seriously believe that the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Parliament will never be told the figure of how much the mining tax has raised, or indeed whether it has even raised a single dollar?

Any less from the Prime Minister and she will have, once again, failed her own standard set by her April 2011 comment that: “You can’t run this country if you can’t manage its budget”. (Source: Press conference, 14 April 2011)

Julia Gillard must be held to account for her own fiscal recklessness.